Health with Olive Oil

Heart Healthy for the Holidays with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I’m sure we can all list the changes we’ve experienced in 2020. As a physician, my practice has witnessed staggering changes from the way we communicate to the ailments that are discussed. Over the past few months, I’ve seen many patients via telemedicine appointments and most of those patients are concerned about the “quarantine 15” or weight gain and related heart diseases. 

Renaissance Healthcare for Women is an all-inclusive holistic women’s health and OB/GYN practice. We recommend lifestyle counseling, cholesterol management and mindfulness practices to support you at this difficult time. Although our lives have changed, we can still incorporate healthy habits – exercise, yoga, hydration, and most importantly . . .  a healthy diet. I promote the Mediterranean diet, featuring vegetables, fruit, herbs, nuts, whole grain, poultry, eggs, seafood and occasionally lean red meat (preferably grass fed). However, the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and the focus of this article is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). One of the healthiest habits you can incorporate into your daily routine is to include more EVOO in your diet.

EVOO is one of the top foods recommended to promote cardiovascular health. Thousands of scientific studies declare the Mediterranean diet one of the world’s healthiest ways to eat. These studies reveal that people who consume a diet rich in EVOO tend to exhibit better heart health than people whose diets contain other forms of fat, especially animal fats. In fact, a Mediterranean diet, rich in EVOO, could actually reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 30 percent.

A few tips about EVOO:  make sure it is certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil; packaged in dark glass or metal (not plastic); and California grown is better than imported EVOO because of truth in labeling laws in California.

Heart disease is often called the silent killer, because we don’t feel our blood pressure slowly increasing or blood vessels narrowing and building up with plaque. A healthy diet is the best defense against high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess body weight (the three main factors contributing to heart disease). EVOO is a monounsaturated fat that has antioxidant properties. It offers protection against heart disease by controlling or lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

I recommend consuming two tablespoons of EVOO per day and while it does contain 120 calories per tablespoon, EVOO lessens the need for sugar and can increase one’s metabolism. Try using EVOO instead of butter for sauteing and baking.  Drizzle it on bread, vegetables and salads.

So, my message . . . stay heart healthy for the holidays and throughout the year with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

A useful reference is The Passionate Olive – 101 Things to do with Olive Oil by Carol Firenze. 

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